New Jersey

Roof collapses after fire ravages NJ church

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A raging fire broke out at a New Jersey church, causing the roof to collapse and the stained glass windows to shatter, video showed.

Someone driving by the Grace Presbyterian Church in Montclair just before 8 a.m. spotted the flames and called 911.

Fire Chief John Herrmann said the inferno was sparked in the basement and extended to the first floor. Firefighters at one point were pulled out of the building due to the severity of the flames, which soared as high as the steeple.

"Church fires are hard: Age, wood, air in a space like that. And voids that you are dealing with," said Herrmann.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, fire officials said. Crews from multiple neighboring town battled the flames, which appeared to be extinguished by around 11 a.m. — shortly after the roof had collapsed in, and multiple stained glass windows were entirely blown out.

Fortunately, no one was inside the church at the time. A church secretary was about to walk in when she, too, noticed the flames and called the fire department.

"How I feel? I want to vomit and cry. It's devastating," said Pastor Robin Curras, who has preached at the church for the past two years. "People are like, 'We can worship here and there,' and they are coming up with solutions. We will figure out one day at a time."

For now the plan is for a prayer service Tuesday night at a nearby church, Upper Montclair Presbyterian.

Curras told NBC New York she already knows it will be months if not more than a year before this building looks the way it did, a fact she called a gut-wrenching reality.

"Everyone is devastated it doesn't feel real," said Curras.

It was not immediately clear what started the fire. An investigation is ongoing.

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